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These 9 foods can dull your smile, but here's how you can keep indulging

Based out of Dallas, Texas, Mary McCoy is a writer and social worker for disenfranchised women and children. She's a single mom, lover of Texas barbecue, and a die-hard fan of yoga

Enjoy intelligently

Why do all the best foods ruin your pearly whites? We talked to Dr. Saam Zarrabi of Rodeo Dental & Orthodontics to find out what you can do about it.

You're probably destroying your teeth

If you're anything like me, Friday nights just aren't the same without a big bowl of spaghetti and a glass of red wine. Maybe that's why my teeth have the luster of yellowing scrapbook paper. "When it comes to staining," explains Zarrabi, "the top offenders are foods and beverages with either high pigment content or high acidity."

Unfortunately, this means that some of the tastiest foods can put a serious damper on the beauty of your pearly whites, just like my wine and spaghetti habit is clearly catching up to me. Here are the nasty nine foods that Zarrabi says to look out for:

  1. Red wine. I'm pleased to report that my bad habit made the top of the list for its pigmentation and acid.
  2. Black tea. Zarrabi also points out that lighter teas can increase the susceptibility of teeth to staining, too.
  3. Coffee. Duh, because obviously this is my second-favorite beverage.
  4. Sodas. The sugar content of soda actually produces acid, which damages tooth enamel and makes them look dull.
  5. Tomato sauce. Healthy tomato sauce is basically just canned acid, surprisingly.
  6. Sports drinks. Stay far away, unless you're a professional athlete. The sugar is super-damaging.
  7. Lemonade. Once again with the high acid content. Sound familiar yet?
  8. Berries. Good in moderation, but the pigments can discolor teeth.
  9. Candy. Both hard and chewy candy can damage the structure of your teeth, in addition to harming enamel.

Take heart, though, because Zarrabi is clear that all is not lost. You just have to know how to enjoy intelligently.

How to prevent and minimize damage

"First," says Zarrabi, "pay attention to the amount of time your teeth are exposed to sugar." He explains that it's much better to indulge in a sugary piece of chocolate cake for 10 minutes than to nurse a soda for a few hours. If you must eat or drink the sugary and acidic foods and beverages that make life worth living, limit your exposure and chase them down with water and a good brushing, like the high-powered clean you can get with ARM & HAMMER™ Spinbrush™ Truly Radiant™ Deep Clean.

In fact, Zarrabi adds that toothbrushing and flossing is key to a lustrous smile. "Always brush twice a day, floss once daily and get regular dental cleanings to remove excess plaque," he says. Plaque can actually increase the amount of acid your mouth produces when you eat and drink, so keeping it under control will pay dividends for your smile over time.

Finally, Zarrabi suggests drinking through a straw to minimize contact with teeth while imbibing an offending beverage. Thank goodness, a dentist is finally telling me it's OK to drink my wine out of a sippy cup.

Restoring your smile

Of course, if your smile already looks a little dull, you may want to restore it with whitening products. "Whitening toothpastes are considered safe to use daily because they gently remove stains through gentle polishing, chemical breakdown or some other non-bleaching action," explains Zarrabi. He suggests ARM & HAMMER™ Truly Radiant™ whitening toothpaste if you aren't sure where to start.

Bleaching treatments are also an option, but Zarrabi suggests that you talk with a dentist before trying anything at home. Sometimes, at-home products can actually do more harm than good, so run your plans by your dentist before proceeding.

This post is sponsored by ARM & HAMMER™.

More about your smile

Soda, grinding and...brushing? The worst things you're doing to your teeth
Friendly or fake? What you're telling people with your smile
Are you brushing your teeth correctly?

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